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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

ARREST AND TRIAL                           179

One of the vice-premiers at the time, Wang Kuei, under pressure of
the censors, suddenly said to the Emperor one day;
^ "Su Shih is at heart a rebel against Your Majesty."

"He may have committed some offence," replied the Emperor with
an expression of surprise, "but he is not thinking of rebellion. What
raakes you say so?"

Wang Kuei then mentioned the poem on the two cypresses with a
reference to the dragon hidden in the underground springs, which could
mean that someone destined to become emperor in the future would
arise from his present obscurity. But the Emperor only said:

"You cannot read poetry that way. He was singing about the cypress.
What has that to do with me?"

Wang Kuei -therefore kept quiet, and Chang Chun, who was still
|u Tungpo's friend at this time, defended Su by explaining to the
%nperor that the dragon was not only the symbol of the ruler but could
refer to ministers as well, and quoted examples from literary history in
support of his argument.

When the examination of further evidence handed in by Su Tungfo's
friends was completed, the Emperor appointed his own man to review
the case. According to the judge's summary a slander of this kind
against the government was punishable by exile and hard labour for
two years, and furthermore, in the case of Su Tungpo, whose offence
j^as considered serious, the punishment should also deprive him of two
of his official ranks. That was the legal view of the case. The power
of decision, however, lay entirely with the Emperor himself in a case
of such serious nature.

On December 29, to the great disappointment of Leeding and Sudan*
a palace official handed out an order sending Su Tungpo to Huang-
chow, near Hankow. He was given a low rank, with the nominal office
of a lieutenant in an army training corps, but the terms of the order
were that he was to be "kept" or "confined" there within that district;
that is, he was not free to leave that district, and had no right to sign
official documents.

Among those implicated in die case, three were dealt with severely.
Prince Wang Shien was deprived of all his ranks on the ground that
Jje had betrayed official secrets to Su Tungpo and had constandy ex-
changed gifts with him, and that, moreover, as a member of the royal
household he had failed to report such slanderous poems as were in
his "possession. The second was Wang Kung, who had not received any
particularly slanderous poems, but who was evidently being victimised
in this case, perhaps because for private reasons the censors wanted to
dispose of him. In the years after, Su kept referring to Wang Kung as
one who suffered on his account. We know Wang Kung's luxurious
habits, and his banishment to the remote south-west was hard for him.